It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane. -Philip K Dick


Reflecting on his surroundings, John wasn't sure how he came to be there.

He obviously knew, of course, the physical journey that had led him there, he was oriented x3 thank you very much. It was the other sort of journey, the circumstances and actions and decisions, all those fun things, that he was a bit blurry on.

(But not confused or delusional. He was just missing some facts.)

It was probably due to the fact that he wasn't the one who'd made those decisions. Far too many of them had been out of his hands, whether by force, or by lack of caring... well, or anything really. Honestly, John could have lived through it multiple times, and still never understood quite how it happened. (But he didn't want to. Once was enough.)

He supposed it was mostly the whirlwind nature of how he'd come about being trapped in the lovely place that he was in now. He'd blinked and... there it was, him just sort of stuck in the middle of it with no clue what had happened.

He told Molly that at their next meeting.

"I'm still not entirely sure what I'm doing here," he sighed, not for the first time.

Molly frowned at him. "John, you shot a chip and pin machine after living in London for less than a week. This was after being invalided home from a war zone with a gunshot to the shoulder, and a suddenly developing pain in your leg. A war zone, I might mention, that you were never supposed to see."

John shrugged. "So what?"

Molly rolled her eyes at him. "That is a pattern. The doctors at the hospital who treated you for the gunshot noticed your behaviours. They did multiple psych evals before discharging you, and the results are all pointing to the same things that I'm seeing now. And everything you did in that week, that single week before you shot a bloody chip and pin machine, points to the same thing."

"What's that?" he asked with feigned disinterest.

"You're not okay," she said firmly. "You may tell yourself that, you may think that, you may even act like that most of the time, but that doesn't make it true."

John shrugged. "If you pretend something so long that you start to believe it, does that make it true?"

Molly didn't have an answer for him.

She just made notes on her page, carefully tipped away from him, and continued on with the session.

John was slightly less than pleased about that.


After Molly didn't answer some more of his probing questions, he was finally sent on his way.

He meandered towards the day room, which was where everyone else seemed to be.

John chose a chair near the window, facing the room.

So maybe Molly was right about him having trust issues, but he was a soldier, and didn't want anyone sneaking up on him. If he was startled, he could possibly kill someone. That terrified him.

The corner it was then.

It was early afternoon, and most residents had ventured out of their rooms partake in whatever the daily activity was, or possibly to squabble over the telly. It often ended up being between football and game shows, but John knew the unspoken rule that if Doctor Who was on, they would be watching it, no complaints.

The afternoon would pass much the same way. Then it would be dinner, then after dinner was group therapy, then the nothingness resumed until bedtime.

Waking up, breakfast, individual therapy or other treatment like art therapy, lunch, individual therapy...

And repeat.

Today the activity was something involving clay. John wasn't sure he wanted to know, especially because he was certain he saw one of the residents eating some. At least it was probably non-toxic.

The Sussex Downs Mental Health Facility was just a fancy way of saying loony bin.

Which, John reflected upon surveying his surroundings, wasn't entirely inaccurate.

Currently in the day room were a number of residents John had gotten to know over the past little while. There was an old woman who was blind, and simply couldn't cope after her son died. John felt bad for her. There was a man with severe OCD who always wore his hat and chewed on one of the bobbles. He had a propensity for trains, and god help anyone who said anything against them. There was a severely depressed man who could make the piano sing like it was holding a song deep inside, longing to be freed. They were mournful, longing, songs. There was a man in the room at the end of the hall that John had heard things about, things that made his skin crawl.

Some of them spoke to people who weren't there. Most of them were nice.

Like Greg, who was world weary and almost always exhausted, the stress of his job evident in his silver hair.

"John! Thoroughly dissected after your session too, I should hope."

"Greg," John nodded. "Pull up a chair."

Lestrade obliged, pulling another armchair next to John's, safely in the corner.

John liked the older man. He was on the police force, detective work, and John had read about him in the papers. The word was that he 'lost it' after a number of serial suicides went unsolved, and then just suddenly stopped, with no apparent cause.

Of course, that was what the papers said, so it could be the furthest thing from the truth.

"Not interested in the clay... thing?" Greg asked.

John snorted. "Not particularly, no."

"Me neither. Reminds me of when my nephew used to play with that stuff. He managed to get it in his hair once. It was awful. He's a teenager now, which probably just means he's into worse things."

John smiled. "Do you have any kids?"

Greg shook his head. "It was hard to balance family with my crazy work schedule. Probably explains why the wife sought out someone else for companionship," he noted, a hint of bitterness in his voice. "What about you?"

John laughed. "Nope. I've been painfully single for most of my life, except for a couple wholly unsuccessful dates and a one night stand when we were both majorly drunk. Of course, it didn't help that most of the army is still blokes."

Lestrade chuckled. "No, I suppose not."

They sat in silence for a moment, watching as a piece of green clay was sampled, and rejected in favour of the yellow.

"Well John, what are you in for? I suppose it's about the time we talk about those things. Not like there's a guidebook on the stages of friend making in psych hospitals."

John snorted. "I'm sure there'd be a market for that."

Greg raised an eyebrow. "So?"

"You go first," John told him.

Lestrade shrugged. "Alright. So you probably read about it in the papers. The serial suicides. That case drove me mad. I couldn't stop thinking about it. People kept dying, and we still had nothing. I wanted to get outside help but-" he hesitated. "Nothing helped. In the end, nine people were dead, and then they just... stopped. I may have come a bit unhinged," he admitted.

John raised an eyebrow. "They wouldn't have stuck you in here just for that."

"Might've tried to take a swan dive into the Thames," he admitted gruffly.

"Ah," John nodded. "Can't say I didn't think about that, but I never got around to doing it."

Lestrade smiled. "Quid pro quo," he said. "Your turn."

John chose his words carefully. "I was shot in Afghanistan, so after a lengthy recovery in military hospitals, I arrived home a week before... well, before I was sectioned." He sighed heavily. "There was a slight incident in a Tesco's involving me, a self checkout machine, and my gun."

Lestrade's eyes widened. "That was you? Wow. I heard about that."

John groaned and covered his eyes with his hands. "Great. That's fantastic. I've got a reputation as the insane chip and pin murderer."

"Only among the police, if that helps," Lestrade offered. "Pretty sure you're not known among the general population for murdering innocent machines."

"It was hardly innocent," John grumbled. "I wouldn't have shot it if it was innocent."

Lestrade laughed. "Fair enough."

They sat back in their respective armchairs and surveyed the room.

"Sure you don't want to play with the clay?" Greg asked wryly.

"Positive," John confirmed.

"Well, in that case, you're on your own mate." He clapped John on the shoulder, which made him wince, before heading over to the arts and crafts table.

John could only shake his head.